As we reach the deepest recesses of the Australian winter, Slow Lane have eschewed the usual tradition of releasing a bunch of big, fireside-sipping beers for a much livelier trio.
The first is Conditioned, a hazy pale ale that’s been subjected to the relatively rare process of can-conditioning. Allowing refermentation in package in order to condition and carbonate the beer is usually a process reserved for large format bottles of fancy saison and Coopers. It’s a difficult process to master and getting it wrong usually means an explosive recall or a muddy flat beer. With Conditioned, Slow Lane continue to demonstrate their prowess with some of the lesser utilised dark arts of the brewing world to create a bright, quaffable pale.
The hopping combo of Citra and Motueka work well with the yeast esters to create a summer fruit dessert buffet of lemon-lime curd, mandarin, pear and vanilla. The lovely full mouthfeel of wheat malt is soft and mildly sweet offset with a restrained bitterness and clean, dry finish.
Next we have a bit of Belgian yin and yang in the guise of a witbier and Belgian stout. Having recently returned from drinking 10,000 beers in the Scandinavian summer, I absolutely have a new appreciation for the humble wit. I was surprised to find witbier a staple on almost every brewery tap list I came across considering its relative obscurity in Australia. Although it did remind me of the summer of 2011 when Lion released Hahn White and I may have been the only person in the country to have purchased and consumed several cartons of the ill-fated experiment.
Anyway, Whiter Shade of Ale is, as you’d expect, a beautiful example of the style: pouring a classic pale straw and hitting all the right notes of coriander, orange peel and spicy Belgian yeast. On the palate is a strong note of white pepper and citrus that’s super clean, slightly bitter and superbly drinkable.
If sightings of can-conditioned pale ales and witbiers are few and far between in Australia, Belgian stouts are the Lithgow Panther of beer styles. Jet black, mythical and responsible for mauling a pet alpaca to death in 2011, you’d be forgiven for not even being aware of the Belgian stout’s existence. Like most Belgian beers, what sets a Belgian stout apart from the rest is the yeast. Unlike English or American yeasts, which are either subtle or barely noticeable at all in a stout, Belgian yeasts muscle their way to the forefront with telltale spicy phenols and fruity esters.
Black As Night is precisely as advertised: a deep, dark black with a gorgeous, fluffy, dark tan head out of which rises allspice, light roast coffee beans, and a bag of mixed dried fruits. The combination of caramel and dark malts creates a riot of dark chocolate cake with a caramel ribbon and roasty espresso. Here is a beer with the dark complexity of a 12 percent ABV RIS jammed into the body of a 7.5 percenter. If you find yourself a better stout this winter, you’ll be doing very well indeed!
Published July 20, 2023 2023-07-20 00:00:00